Update to Safe Start Plan for Libraries

Library Services

Gov. Jay Inslee has announced public libraries may allow some indoor service at 25 percent capacity in Phase 2 of his Safe Start reopening plan. Indoor activities were previously slated in Phase 3. The Seattle Public Library currently operates in Phase 2 and is assessing the new reopening requirements with current planning efforts to expand services. The safety of our patrons and staff is our top priority as we develop and progress carefully and thoughtfully on our reopening plans. It will likely take a few weeks to develop a plan to determine services that can safely adapt to in-building access. All physical distancing and health protocols will remain in place, and as required in the new guidance, cloth masks will be required to access any in-building services. Curbside Pickup Service and online services, classes, programs and activities will continue through all phases. More details will be announced when plans are finalized.

How do I borrow books while the Library is closed?

When can I start borrowing books again?

Curbside pickup service is available at 9 Library locations. Learn more about locations and hours and how to pick up your holds.

Can I now place new holds?

Holds graphic

Patrons can place up to 25 holds at a time and pick them up at one of our 9 curbside pickup service locations.

How do I return my books?

When can I return my books?

The Library is now accepting returns at 13 Library locations every day from 10am to 6 p.m. or until book returns are full. You may drop off your items at any of these locations:

When are my books due?

When are my books due?

Due dates on most items are now extended until Nov 1, please plan to return your materials by this date so other patrons can enjoy them.

Due to very high demand, we have stopped extending due dates for HotSpots and we are asking patrons who borrow HotSpots to return them by their due dates.

After Nov 1 - Lending periods will remain the same as they were prior to our building closures: three weeks for most materials and two weeks for DVDs and Peak Picks.

You can help us with the reopening process by checking your account for holds you have placed on physical items and deleting those that you no longer need.

All returned items will be quarantined – and remain on your account – for a minimum of 3 days before being checked in.

When can I visit Library buildings again?

When can I visit Library buildings again?

At this time, our buildings are still primarily closed to the public to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We do not have a target date for reopening our buildings to the public. We do, however, currently offer daily limited public restroom access at five Library locations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Library has canceled in-person public Library programs, as well as meeting room bookings, until at least Dec. 31.

What's available online?

What's available online?

To help meet community interest, we have invested in more e-materials throughout our closure. You can explore our vast collection of learning and entertainment resources, including e-books (see expanded “Always Available ” lists), streaming services, learning resources and more. Library staff are also ready to answer your phone call or  chat or email through Ask Us.

Can I donate my used books to the Library?

Can I donate my used books to the Library?

The Library is not able to accept book donations at this time and does not anticipate being able to accept donations throughout the summer. Please do not leave books or other materials you wish to donate at Library sites.

Common questions about our COVID-19 closure

What Library services are available during this COVID-19 closure?

Book returns and curbside service are available at select Library locations throughout the city of Seattle.

We continue to provide the many digital services you have come to love, such as our Ask Us reference service (available by phone, chat and email); e-books and e-audiobooksstreaming TV, movie and music services; digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines; and more. We are also hosting a number of virtual programs, such as story times on Facebook Live, virtual Play and Learn groups, programs for people ages 50 and older, business trainings and more. See spl.org/calendar for a full list. 

You can also see a list of our digital services at spl.org/StayingHome.

I don’t have a Library card. Can I apply for one online?

Yes! If you don’t have an active account with The Seattle Public Library, go to spl.org/card to sign up for a digital Library card. To be eligible, you must be 13 years or older, live in Seattle and have a mobile phone to verify your account. People who successfully sign up will get immediate access to the OverDrive collection of 200,000 e-books and e-audiobooks, and to the rest of the Library’s resources (including placing holds on physical materials) within two or three days.

Also, through our Library Link program, if you are a Seattle Public School student in grades K-12, or a Seattle Public School teacher in grades K-12, you can access the Library’s digital books and online resources. Find out more at spl.org/LibraryLink.

I have a Library card, but can’t figure out how to sign into my account online.

If you have an active account with The Seattle Public Library but are having trouble accessing your account at spl.org, you can ask for assistance by contacting the Library’s help and reference service at Ask Us

Have due dates been extended?

Due dates for physical Library materials will be re-implemented beginning Nov. 1, 2020. Lending periods will remain the same as they were prior to our building closure: three weeks for most materials and two weeks for DVDs and Peak Picks.

Due dates on physical Library materials were suspended beginning in March 2020 when Library buildings were closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Suspending due dates provided needed flexibility for our patrons during an unprecedented time. Now that Curbside Pickup service is operating regularly, it is important we receive materials back in order to keep our collections well-stocked for all patrons.

How can I stay up to date on Library operations during the closure and what’s available?

We will post updates to this page and our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. When there are major updates, such as anticipated re-openings or extended closures, we will reach out to patrons via email as well.

Can I contact the Library through chat, email or phone during the closure?

Yes, even though our physical locations are closed, our Ask Us reference service is now available through all of those channels. Go to spl.org/chat to chat during our open hours, or send an email at any time. You can also call us during our open hours at 206-386-4636.

Can I suggest titles for new materials you don’t have in your catalog?

Currently, we are only accepting title suggestions for eBooks and eAudiobooks. We are still working through a backlog for the ordering and processing of new materials, so we do not yet have the capacity to take on additional title suggestions at this time.

What is happening in Library buildings while they are closed?

King County has been approved for Phase 2 activities in the Governor’s Safe Start Washington plan, which allows some Library staff to conduct in-building work. That work includes:

  • maintaining the systems and security of our Library buildings;
  • providing safe public restroom access at five locations;
  • processing and shelving returned materials;
  • cleaning and disinfecting buildings;
  • setting up health and safety protocols for staff;
  • and launching limited curbside pickup service for physical materials.

Other Library staff have been working remotely to:

  • develop a Road to Reopening plan;
  • answer patron questions seven days a week via telephone, chat and email;
  • transition in-person programs – such as job help and support for small businesses – to virtual programs;
  • collaborate with Seattle Public Schools and other community partners in supporting the learning needs of students, parents and teachers;
  • and more

Will library parking garages remain open during this closure?

Most library parking garages are closed for the duration of the Library’s closure. The Central Library parking garage, however, is open during its regular hours: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8:45 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Will the Bookmobile or Books by Mail be available during the closure?

Mobile services, including Bookmobile activities, were temporarily suspended during the early part of our closure. In mid-August, the Library began no-contact delivery of Library materials to established Mobile stops. The Library's Books by Mail service has fully resumed and is signing up new patrons who are unable to visit their neighborhood branch due to age or disability.

Explore Mobile Library Services

Important Health Agency Resources Regarding Coronavirus

Novel coronavirus fact sheets